Top 10 Hospitality Candidate Interview Questions

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For hospitality professionals, conducting candidate interviews is part of the job, whether you're an owner/operator, a hiring manager, or an HR professional.

At times, it can feel like you're preparing as much as the candidates!

That's why we're sharing our top interview questions that you should ask your next hospitality candidate. 

Keep scrolling to read them all, and let us know in the comments what your go-to interview question is! 

Why do you enjoy working in the hospitality industry? Kicking things off with this simple, lighthearted question is not only a great way to get a candidate into a relaxed and positive state of mind, but it also serves to help you align your company's core values with a candidate's personal values.

What do you know about our brand, and why do you want to work here? To a certain extent, each team member will serve as the face of your brand. Having an affinity for your brand helps to ensure they will come across as genuine and passionate, leading to better customer service. 

What hours are you available to work? Expectations for hours worked should be laid out in your job description, but it’s always a good idea to double check. You’ll want someone whose schedule works with the hours needed, and who will be reliable in order to keep your business operations running smoothly. 

How do you deal with conflict amongst coworkers? In a fast-paced environment with many variables, having mature employees is crucial. You could even ask for an example of an incident when a candidate had a conflict with another coworker, and how it was resolved. You'll want to look for proactive behaviors, and recognize red flags (i.e. if they dragged other people into their drama or seem to be holding a grudge). This question should also give you a good idea of how the candidate handles stressful situations and different personalities, both of which they are bound to encounter at your place of business. 

What does [your brand's motto / your brand's name] mean to you? Ensure that the candidate is able to serve not only as an employee but an ambassador or representative of your brand. It's important that they understand the type of values and service you are trying to promote. 

What are your interests outside of work? It's no secret that the life of a hospitality professional is fast-paced! It's important for people in all roles to have a healthy work-life balance to avoid burnout (you can read more on the topic of burnout here). Plus, people with diverse hobbies and experiences can lead to higher customer engagement and satisfaction. 

What is your favorite/least favorite customer service experience? The way a candidate talks about both positive and negative experiences can be very revealing. Whether positive or negative, look for them to remain balanced and in control when talking about each experience. In both instances, look for them to own their behavior. If it was a favorite experience, perhaps it was because they provided above and beyond service. If it was negative, look for clues into how they handled (and hopefully resolved) the situation. 

What does teamwork mean to you? Restaurants are basically second families. Getting a sense for someone’s work ethic shows how they’ll fit in on your team. The ideal candidate knows their role and how it fits into the larger organization, but is not above jumping in to help with other tasks. 

Situational Questions: Put a customer in a common experience they are bound to encounter in the role. Doing so will help demonstrate how they act under pressure. How would you handle a guest’s request for special service (birthday, etc.)? How would you handle a guest who is angry or unsatisfied? Speaking calmly, openly, and wisely about a solution to a situation - or at least talking through their approach - can be a good indicator that they're equipped to handle it in real life.

Are there any people you refuse to serve? Unfortunately, the restaurant industry has major issues with bias. It’s important to make sure everyone feels welcome at your restaurant and that your staff is accommodating. 

Are you a hospitality professional looking to improve your interview process? We want to help!

We offer premium interview tools for teams of all sizes. With Harri's next-generation ATS, you can build a better candidate experience and retain more people by quickly moving them through the hiring funnel. Our powerful suite of interview tools enables you to  ask relevant questions specific to your business needs, and gain greater insights into potential candidates' personalities and skills through photos and videos uploaded to their profile.

The entire interview process is fully managed on Harri, making it super easy and user-friendly for employers and candidates alike. Invite, schedule, and keep track of interview dates and times with prospective candidates, all on one platform. Keep record of members’ attendance rates and mark no shows from a digital dashboard. Record notes on your mobile device during interviews, and collaborate on them with team members. 

We also offer tools designed for customers with centralized interview scheduling or multiple hiring managers in mind, like Advanced Interview Scheduler. It includes enhanced capabilities like custom interview duration and location, the ability to assign and schedule specific hiring managers by role, direct applicant interview messaging interface, upgraded open day functionality, and Google Calendar sync. 

Interested in learning more? Reach out to today for a free demo. 

How Restaurants Can Protect Their Data

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As technology has advanced - which is a huge win for restaurants and hotels - the risk of attacks has also unfortunately increased. 

Let's be real: As a hospitality business professional, you know a lot about things like labor costs, operations, customer service, and managing teams - but tech and data security is probably not one of your strong suits.

Unfortunately, this makes you extra susceptible to cyber attacks. Hackers are looking for vulnerable people and easy access. 

No one wants to deal with a potential threat - but it’s better to be prepared than risk eroding trust amongst your employees and customers. Even if you haven’t been the victim of a cyber attack or theft, your patrons may choose not to do business with you if they feel that you’re not taking appropriate steps to ensure their information is secure. 

So - how high are the stakes? After a data breach, not only could jobs be at risk, but you’ll pay in high legal costs, lost sales, and eroded customer trust. The worst-case scenario is that you'd go out of business altogether, which is the unfortunate reality of many establishments that experience a data breach.

And it's only getting worse: According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, 2017 outpaced every previous year in terms of number of breaches reported: 1,579. That's a staggering loss of 78 million consumer records.

Here are a few simple ways you can protect your business and your customers: 

1 - Payment Card Industry Compliance. Becoming PCI compliant is the first step you should take to becoming more secure and less susceptible to cyber-attacks. So, how does one become PCI compliant? It is obtained by following a set of standards to ensure that all companies accept, process, store, or transmit CC info maintain a secure environment. In other words, being PCI compliant gives your business an extra level of above-and-beyond security wherever possible so your customers can feel safe with every swipe of their card. 

2 - Invest in a Modern POS. Modern point-of-sale systems allow for immediate encryption for credit card information upon swiping, so everything is transferred securely. This gives you more control over the protection of your customer’s data from the very first point of contact. Since the sensitive information (their payment) is encrypted, hackers can’t install malware - software that is intended to damage or disable computers and computer systems - on your company’s network. Since hackers look for a trail to follow in order to steal information, they won’t find any - so there’s nothing for them to access. 

3 - Keep It In the Cloud. Speaking of modern POS systems, they also offer another benefit, which is that they are far more secure than legacy systems. What does it mean to be stored in the cloud? Simply put, all data is stored off-site - meaning customer credit card data is instantly, securely transferred to the next step in your payment process. On top of that, modern POS systems are just easier to use and offer more convenient features than legacy systems. If you haven’t upgraded, this is an easy win for your business (did you know Harri integrates directly with most major POS companies, like Toast?). Still need convincing? Legacy systems work by storing information on-site - i.e. the back office of your restaurant. Yikes! This makes thousands of customers’ data especially vulnerable to theft. You wouldn’t just leave a pile of money on your desk, would you? Make sure your customers’ data doesn’t end up in the wrong hands, and upgrade to a modern POS. 

4 - Stay One Step Ahead of Hackers. Always strive to stay one step ahead of people who may want access to your data for the wrong reasons. No, we’re not suggesting you become an information technology guru overnight - let someone else do the work for you! By upgrading to a modern POS, you’ll typically receive technical support and regularly-scheduled software upgrades. One of the main responsibilities of a software engineer on one of these teams is to anticipate issues and recognize weak areas that have the potential to cause security breaches. Then, they resolve the issue via regular software updates. 

5 - Keep Your Passwords Protected. This almost goes without saying, but in your back office, do not let everyone use the same username and password, and restrict who is allowed access to it. Also - make sure these passwords are updated at least every 6 months (this is a great tip for your personal passwords, too!) 

6 - Don't Allow Remote Desktop Connections. Occasionally a situation may arise where an employee requests a remote desktop connection. Think hard before you allow them to do this, as it can allow firewall breaches. If you’re not sure where your weak spots are in your firewall, consult an expert to patch them and make recommendations on how often the firewall should be reevaluated. 

In this day and age, no industry is safe from cyber-attacks, so it’s important to keep your business protected. Don’t let your business be an easy target! Start today! Don’t let your business be an easy target! 


Product & Feature Updates: May 2018

We're excited to share our latest product and feature releases for May 2018!

These enhancements may affect your account. Check out the highlights below, and please check in with all appropriate members of your team to ensure you're implementing the updates that will best serve your business.


As a hospitality professional, you need more control over every aspect of your business. This feature gives you even more control over the jobs you post. With Advanced Job Post Settings, you can now set jobs as ‘Evergreen,’ meaning they have no expiration date. You’ll also be able to pause a job, which will remove it from Harri, your Career Portal, and other job boards. You also have the ability to set a number of hires when creating a job post, set a fill date, and set actions when marking a job as filled, ensuring it’s mandatory for managers to move candidates to either the ‘Hired’ or ‘Skipped’ columns.

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Schedules are the glue holding everything together. A well-built, insightful schedule has the ability to not only put the right people in the right places, it can also improve the experience of scheduling managers and improve team engagement. Our improved table view option prints the week's schedule on less pages with more info, and can also be grouped by employee, day part, and revenue center.


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Everyone looks at things differently, which is why we’ve added new sorting options to our pay data sheets, including the ability to sort employees by first and last name (these options have been added to the timesheet, as well). We've also added labor cost/total wages to the Pay Data Sheet, and made improvements to both the employee name column on the Pay Data Sheet and the Pay Data Sheet header to make it readily available when managers scroll down.


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Are you an operations or finance professional looking for more visibility into what makes up your total labor cost? Our new Detailed Employee Labor Variance Report enables you to view actual hours worked and labor costs vs. scheduled hours worked and variance. It's easily customizable and aggregated, too: You have the ability to aggregate across the time frame of the report (timeline can be customized). We call this report 'detailed' because additional categories for wage and wage penalties are broken down (spread of hours and overtime pay is included), giving you even more visibility into what makes up your total labor cost.


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In Q1 we added a new feature to our TeamLive communications capabilities called TeamLive Channels. This feature allows managers to communicate with their team members via position, category, and custom groups. Managers will also be able to send messages to specific groups - like servers - without spending time creating a group and adding servers to it.


Fair Processing Notice for Candidates

At Harri, we respect your personal data. This Fair Processing Notice explains how we will continue to use our candidates' personal data when creating a profile on Harri.


Harri U.S. LLC - 611 Broadway, Suite 309, New York, NY 10012

Harri U.K. - Medius House, 2 Sheraton St, London, W1F 8BH

Our Data Protection Officer is Kristy Gouldsmith and she can be contacted at


We collected and processed your personal data when you created a profile on Harri.

In order to create a profile and apply for jobs, we needed your name, email address, phone number, your employment details, if you had them (employer, position, duties, dates) and education (institution, location, qualification, dates).  We asked you to describe yourself in three words and to write a bit about yourself for your profile.  We asked for your references, if you have any. You also had the option to upload your CV and a photograph of you.

You can continue to use your Harri profile to apply for jobs on our platform or to apply for a job with an employer, if they are using Harri. 

Once you have applied for a job using your Harri profile, the employer will have access to your application and will be able to use it to assess your suitability as a candidate with them. The employer can use Harri in the recruitment process to schedule interviews, make recruitment notes and to contact you. The employer can also use Harri to ask specific questions during the recruitment process.

Your Harri profile will remain on Harri until you decide to delete it.  If you want to delete your profile, please contact us at We will suspend your profile immediately, and purge your profile 90 days after receiving your request, just in case you change your mind in the meantime.


We need a legal basis in order to process your personal data.  Creating a Harri profile is entirely your choice, so our legal basis for its processing is with your consent.  You can put in as much or as little information as you like.  You can withdraw your consent at any time and request that your profile be deleted.

When you apply for a job, the sending of the application (eg. the one-click apply) is a clear affirmative action that you wish to apply for that job and therefore, the processing will be with your consent.


Harri, by default, does not use any automated decision making. However, an employer might use automated decision-making in their recruitment questions. This will differ depending on the company you are applying for. Please read their Fair Processing Notice for more information on their recruitment process.


We share your personal data with the following recipients:

  • Our software providers

  • Employers
  • Harri (US) LLC
  • Harri Ramallah


Harri is a U.S. company, so we will transfer your personal data to the U.S.A. and to our sister company in Ramallah, Palestine. But don’t worry, your data is fully protected!  Harri has applied to be on Privacy Shield and we are using EU Model Contracts, too.


You can have a profile on Harri for as long as you like and it is up to you when you would like to delete it.  When you apply for a job with an employer, please read their Fair Processing Notice to see how long they will hold your personal data for.


You have rights in respect of our processing of your personal data which are:

  • To access to your personal data and information about our processing of it.  You also have the right to request a copy of your personal data (but we will need to remove information about other people)
  • To rectify incorrect personal data that we are processing
  • To request that we erase your personal data if we no longer need it
  • To request that we erase your personal data if we are processing your personal data by consent and you withdraw that consent
  • To request that we erase your personal data if we no longer have a legitimate ground to process your personal data
  • To request that we erase your personal data if we are processing your personal data unlawfully
  • To object to our processing if it is by legitimate interest
  • To restrict our processing if it was by legitimate interest
  • To request that your personal data be transferred from us to another company if we were processing your data under a contract or with your consent and the processing is carried out automated means.

If you want to exercise any of these rights, please contact us.

If you have any questions or concerns, please email as most matters can be resolved informally in the first instance.

You also have the right to lodge a complaint about our processing to the UK's Information Commissioner's Office.

Team Players: How to Spot High-Potential Employees

Team Players: How to Spot High-Potential Employees and Take Productive Next Steps

by Cleo Clark, VP of HR Strategy & Development at Harri


This article originally appeared in the May 2018 issue of Hospitality Trendz.

The hospitality industry is built on people, which is why internal growth is the cornerstone of your restaurant or hotel’s success. If you are failing to promote from within, then you are doing a disservice to your staff and ultimately your business.

Some managers and owners make the mistake of giving promotions to those with tenure, but forget to consider if the respective employee is ready for the responsibilities that come with their new title. There are also cases of management pushing titles onto staff who have no desire to be promoted - which usually ends in terminations and hostile work environments.

As a business expands, the human resources practices must expand as well. Recognizing high-potential line-level employees (cooks, servers, front desk agents, etc.) early on will only help to cultivate the growth of your business as a whole.

So, let’s talk about a few attributes you should look for in that high-potential employee!

Is your employee passionate about what they are doing? Employees who are passionate about their jobs are the ones who are usually extremely self-motivated and have a strong desire to succeed. This passion is also infectious and can have a lasting effect on other employees and the business as a whole. I have always found that an employee who has fiery passion is the one who is also reliable and will be consistent.

Great Attitude:
A “great attitude” does not always mean “happy all the time.” Rather, it implies that he or she has a “does whatever it takes” outlook while at work. Every day, service throws curveballs to line-level employees. Whether it’s an on-the- fly catering order in the middle of lunch service or the stove pilot decides to not light before peak dinner service, there are obstacles that can really test employees’ ability to keep calm in the midst of chaos. The most capable employees – those who overcome these obstacles – usually reveal themselves throughout their time working in a restaurant. Finding these employees is not difficult: it’s all about paying closer attention to your staff. Workers who deftly handle challenges tend to go above and beyond in other aspects of service as well. Maybe they cultivate regulars by remembering their names and orders, come in a little earlier, or stay later to get the job done. Positivity is definitely a plus, and if that comes with problem management skills and logical thinking in chaos – even better! These are the employees to watch.

Is your employee resourceful? Can they look at a problem and find a quick-witted way to resolve it? Are they able to handle your guests with care and concern and find ways to immediately resolve their issues? Do they look at the issues and see solutions - not just problems? In today’s tough economic business environment, we are faced with so many rising costs. It is challenging to run a business in a financially feasible manner. We have all been in that situation where we have to schedule less employees and run tighter shifts. Having that “A-Player” employee working during that tough shift and knowing you can rely on them is such relief.

Exemplary Team Player:

All of your strongest staff should be team players. If you suspect that even one of them is not, it may be time to rethink your hiring strategy. As there are accessible systems to keep track of your employees' performance, your business is only as strong as your weakest employee. For the best ones to rise to the occasion, they must be surrounded by equally good workers. For a management potential employee, you need a team player who can teach others how to play the game. Keep an eye out for ambitious employees: those who go ahead of their stations and are able to help out others who might get in the weeds during a busy service. Hopefully, you will be able to recognize 1-2 employees with the ability to catch others when they fall, and hustle when their team is in need (which is most of the time). Exemplary team players will have good rapport with others, and team members will be able to give instances on when these people have stepped up to the plate. If you see certain employees flourish, especially under pressure, it would be smart to keep tabs on them.

Lastly...Do They Have A “Sponsor?”

As with any business, having sponsors in the hospitality industry can get top-performing employees to higher positions more quickly. Once you believe you have pinpointed one or more high-potential employees, speak to their supervising managers, staff they may have trained, and peers who have worked side-by- side with them. If any of these sponsors jump at the opportunity to vouch for them, it’s a very good sign. However, there is always a chance a manager might fear losing a strong team member, and deny an employee’s clearly high performance (fortunately, this is rare). Be mindful of this, and still be diligent about gaining multiple opinions, and always assure managers that if a leading team member is being promoted then you will allow ample time for them to train their successors. The last thing you need is a bitter manager on your hands.

Career Pathing (Succession Planning)

Now that you see potential in a line-level employee, it’s time to have an open discussion about the management position at hand. Have his or her current manager arrange a time to meet with you. Having coffee or a plain one-on-one works well for this instance, as long as it is a private conversation to gauge honest interest in the promotion. This conversation could go one of two ways...
1. The employee is elated that he or she has been presented this opportunity, and will happily begin the steps for manager training.
2. The team member may be reluctant to leave their team members behind, may have different career goals, or may refuse the position for monetary reasons. Lay out clear expectations, salary range, and benefits of the respective position, and be sure to give them some time to think about it (a week or so is good). The worst-case scenario is that the person turns down the position, and you have to begin the process again.